About Shawn Mathieson

At 6 feet 5 inches tall, family oriented and always having the best interest of others, Shawn was the epitome of a firefighter. The Ottawa Fire Truck pull very much represents who Shawn was as a person; family, strength, community spirit, teamwork and helping others.

He was a mountain of a man, with a personality to match. That may explain why throughout his career with Ottawa Fire Service, Shawn affectionately inherited the nickname "Shrek."

Shawn at Work

Born and raised in Toronto, Shawn was the youngest of four children. After completing high school at the age of 17, Shawn moved to Ottawa to start Algonquin College in Management, and later changed his designation to become an Electrician. In the late 90's, Shawn started working at La Cité Colligiale as an Electronics Professor and was later promoted to Manager of the Electronics and Robotics Department. While working at the college, Shawn became a volunteer with the Cumberland Fire Department. This exposure led Shawn to apply for, and become a full-time firefighter with the City of Ottawa in 2001.

Shawn's love of teaching led him into many facets with the Fire Department; Training Instructor, Para Trainer, Apparatus, Ladders, Ground Ladders, Fire Behavior, Safety & PPE. In 2015 Shawn applied for a new venture through the Ottawa Fire Department; Fire Dynamics was created as a global effort to re-write the way in which firefighting needed to change to meet the new challenges in current construction compared to decades ago. This endeavor was the highlight of Shawn's career. Shawn took on the role of Curriculum Lead in the “From Knowledge To Practice” Fire Dynamics Project. His past experiences with curriculum development, coupled with his enthusiasm for the firefighting trade, made him integral to the initial curriculum development. He worked closely with Canadian and International Project partners to address the gaps and differences within International firefighting documents. Shawn had an impeccable eye for written materials and helped create the environment that fit the vision of bringing Firefighting, Instruction, Research and Engineering together, to benefit the Canadian Fire Service. Once the curriculum was drafted, Shawn joined the ranks of fire service instructors, with the goal of validating a new firefighter training model.

Shawn the Family Man

Shawn's first son was born in 1986. After meeting his wife Carrie in 2003, they had two more children together – a son in 2004 and a daughter in 2009.

Shawn started some major construction projects on the family home.  Most firefighters have the downtime to complete these renovations within a couple of years.  However much of the work remained incomplete, even a decade later.  There were too many opportunities to spend time with his family: trips down south with all three kids, flying overseas to see his sister’s family in Japan, or spending summers at the cottage with his brother’s family. The unfinished projects would always be there when we came home, but time with family was of the utmost importance.  

Carrie remembers Shawn as the most intelligent person she has ever known. They wanted a circular staircase built to compliment a new addition on the home.  In speaking to builders, it was very expensive to have one designed and custom built.  When Shawn would question the carpenters about doing the design himself, they laughed; "You will never get the stringers and risers correct through the circular design."

Shawn walked into Chapters, picked up a book on staircase design, flipped through it for about 10 minutes and put it down.

"You're not going to buy it?” Carrie asked.

"Nope" Shawn said, "I know all I need to know."

And that was it - he made a beautiful circular staircase.